On Saturday, USA Today published an op-ed written by Chelsea Mitchell, one of three female athletes at the center of a legal challenge to Connecticut’s unfair transgender rules that allow biological males to compete against females in women’s sports. Apparently facing some backlash a few days after publication, USA Today altered Mitchell’s words and claimed that she had used “hurtful language.”
On Tuesday, USA Today slapped an “Editor’s Note” at the top of the article. The note reads, “This column has been updated to reflect USA TODAY’s standards and style guidelines. We regret that hurtful language was used.”
What language was so “hurtful” that USA Today altered it three days after publication? The publication removed every mention of the biological term “male” and replaced it with the indeterminate word “transgender.”
What was the “hurtful language” that editors deleted from Chelsea’s opinion piece three days after publication? The word “male.” 2/3
— Christiana Holcomb (@ChristianaADF) May 26, 2021
Mitchell wrote compellingly about her experience of getting ranked the fastest high school female track athlete in Connecticut for the 55-meter dash, but knowing that biological males who identify as female enjoy an unfair advantage against her.
“All I can think about is how all my training, everything I’ve done to maximize my performance, might not be enough, simply because there’s a runner on the line with an enormous physical advantage: a male body,” she originally wrote.
USA Today changed this sentence to “All I can think about is how all my training, everything I’ve done to maximize my performance, might not be enough, simply because there’s a transgender runner on the line with an enormous physical advantage.”
Transgender identity does not, by itself, grant any physical advantage. By substituting Mitchell’s words for a supposedly more inclusive term, USA Today has undermined her basic point.
“I’ve lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and numerous other spots on the podium to male runners. I was bumped to third place in the 55-meter dash in 2019, behind two male runners. With every loss, it gets harder and harder to try again,” Mitchell wrote. Again, USA Today removed the word “male” and replaced it with “transgender,” as if Mitchell was complaining that a gender identity, not physical differences between males and females, had given her opponents an advantage.
While Mitchell rightly complained that Connecticut “allows biological males to compete in girls’ and women’s sports,” USA Today altered her words to complain that the state “allows transgender athletes” to compete.
Mitchell explained why the policy isn’t fair: “That’s because males have massive physical advantages. Their bodies are simply bigger and stronger on average than female bodies.”
USA Today removed any mention of males from this paragraph. Instead, the op-ed merely states, “Their bodies are simply bigger and stronger on average.” The post-publication edit removed both the mention of biological males and the comparison that they are “bigger and stronger on average” compared to females.
Transgender identity is not the point of Mitchell’s piece — biological sex is. As Doriane Lambelet Coleman wrote, males “have higher natural levels of testosterone, which affects traits such as hemoglobin levels, body fat content, the storage and use of carbohydrates, and the development of type 2 muscle fibers, all of which result in men being able to generate higher speed and power during physical activity.”
A female who identifies as a male or a female who identifies as something else entirely would still be a “transgender athlete” but she would not pose the same kind of threat to fairness in women’s sports, assuming she would decide to compete in women’s sports at all. The problem isn’t gender identity, it’s the extra testosterone that male human beings get, from the womb to puberty and beyond.
The nonsensical removal of “male” damages the clarity of Mitchell’s op-ed, but it also forces her to say something she wouldn’t have said.
“The editors put words into Chelsea’s mouth without notice and after the piece was published,” Elizabeth Ray, director of media relations at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the firm representing Mitchell and two other female athletes in their lawsuit, told PJ Media. “In nearly all cases, such edits are made and negotiated BEFORE publication. That said, if USA Today determined an editor’s note was desired, it could have done so without altering Chelsea’s words.”
“Assigning ‘hurtful’ motives to her at the top of her own opinion piece is an insult,” Ray added. “Chelsea used the term ‘male’ only to refer logically to the biology of the competitors she raced against, which is the primary point of the piece and important for context. There can be no argument that the transgender athletes that she competed against are biologically male.”
ADF has asked USA Today to remove the second sentence in the editor’s note, dropping the claim that biologically correct terms for Mitchell’s competitors constitutes “hurtful language.”
Transgender activists apparently claim that biologically accurate terms for human beings with XY chromosomes are “hurtful,” so much so that editors will butcher an op-ed after a magazine has already published it.
This shows the horrifying Orwellian implications of transgender identity. While many activists paint critics as bigoted villains who refuse to “live and let live,” this ideology requires denying the plain facts of biological reality. Males who identify as female cannot erase their DNA or fully reverse their development in the womb and throughout their lives. Yet at least one USA Today editor has decided that it is “hurtful” to allow Mitchell to refer to these athletes as “male.”
Transgender activism does not just demand that Americans respect males who claim to identify as female and vice versa. It demands that Americans upend biological reality, denying obvious differences between males and females and even excising biologically correct terms from their language.
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